Make or break for Khan in career-defining Canelo clash
Lee Gormley | February 3, 2016
High stakes for Khan with Canelo choice
On May 7th this year, Amir Khan will enter the Las Vegas ring to collide with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, in a surprise WBC middleweight title match-up that will surely define the Bolton fighter’s career.
At 29 years of age, more than a decade on from his star-making Silver Medal showing at the Olympic Games in Athens, Khan (31-3, 19 KOs) has the opportunity to put himself back on the global boxing map, after recent years of teetering on the edge of obscurity due to various setbacks.
Such a match-up with reigning WBC middleweight title holder Canelo (46-1-1, 32 KOs) came as a shock to the boxing world, with Khan’s decision to meet arguably the sport’s biggest star since Floyd Mayweather Jr retired being hailed as a truly brave one.
The Greater Manchester fighter has been installed as the 3/1 outsider with Coral to prevail, and should he triumph, he would become only the fourth Briton to clinch the lineal middleweight crown, following Alan Minter, Terry Downes and Randy Turpin, and the first in almost four decades. No pressure then.
Middleweight debut for Bolton’s best
Khan, a two-time light-welterweight world champion, undoubtedly faces a mammoth task later this year, with Mexican bruiser Canelo representing the most formidable challenge of his career, at a testing 155lbs catchweight; a weight which the latter relished against Miguel Cotto.
In boxing’s latest head-scratching pair-up, Khan, a man who was stopped within four rounds by Danny Garcia at 140lbs, will be competing eight pounds above the highest engaged weight of his career against a dangerous pressure fighter that typically rehydrates at around 175lbs upon fight night.
Khan’s future fiery headed opponent also comes into their surprise bout on the back of a career-best win over famed Puerto Rican Cotto, a victory which earned him the WBC and lineal middleweight straps and generated just short of a million pay-per-view buys. Which, to put in better terms, was substantially more than double Mayweather’s ‘final’ contest with Andre Berto.
With Canelo having inherited the crown of boxing’s star attraction, Khan now finally has the chance to make a statement and prove his worth, in a fight which could either completely derail the Briton’s career or propel him to global stardom.
Has Khan got the chin for Alvarez arsenal?
Questions were immediately raised over Khan’s ability to deal with such a powerful foe, with many still casting minds back to his 54-second destruction at the hands of Breidis Prescott, and that hapless Garcia stoppage too.
His most-recent ring outing against solid all-rounded American Chris Algieri last May was supposed to be a platform to showcase his improved ring talents, but instead he was taken into troubled waters, ultimately having to settle for what seemed like an underwhelming points win.
Worryingly for Khan and his followers is his chin, with Algieri having stunned the Mancunian several occasions in New York. If the Brooklyn fighter, whose punches don’t pack as much threat as they possibly should, can hurt Khan, then how long can the latter withstand Canelo’s devastating arsenal?
When fight night rolls around, Khan will have not entered the ring for exactly 12 months, having been sidetracked by the constant pursuing of a high-profile Mayweather meeting, while compatriot Kell Brook will be left reeling after talks of a Wembley showdown in June have been shelved – for now.
De La Hoya admits Canelo-‘GGG’ will happen
If Khan does fall short at the hands of Guadalajara power puncher though, then his options on a more national scale will remain open, with a Brook bout still having interest in that scenario, or a Garcia rematch on home soil has also been touted heavily.
Khan won’t be thinking of such consequences though, with his eyes focused solely on shocking Canelo in May and, if he was to emerge victorious, the leading light of Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions would then be granted a rematch.
This is according to the ‘Golden Boy’ himself, who also pleased fight fans by admitting his star man will 100 per cent meet middleweight monster Gennady Golovkin in the near future, and at 160lbs.
“This is a fight for the fans and Canelo always wants to fight the best and the fight with Khan is a clear example of that,” outlined De La Hoya.
“He was the biggest name available and a fighter that neither [Manny] Pacquiao or Mayweather wanted to face, that been said Canelo will face the best middleweights in the world eventually and that will happen soon.
“He will definitely fight GGG, there is no doubt about it, he will eventually grow to the full 160 pounds. Canelo is the star in boxing now, he is carrying the torch now and he is here to stay and we will continue to make the best fights for the fans, I’ll guarantee that.”
Such welcomed words will be music to Kazakhstan battering ram Golovkin, who is patiently waiting in the wings for a huge middleweight showdown, having become the most avoided fighter around with his incredible knockout streak.
Roach fears for Khan
Legendary coach Freddie Roach undertook training duties for Khan just shy of four years before going their separate ways in September 2012, and he believes his former fighter can become a worldwide star with victory in May.
“If he wins this one, it’ll put him on the map worldwide,” stated the 55-year-old.
Khan’s former mentor also outlined fears for the previous world champion in his Canelo encounter, claiming he faces a huge uphill task.
“I think he would have been better off taking the Kell Brook fight, he is a good fighter but he’s not as good as the opponent he’s picked!”
This fight getting made is stunning. Lets just say interesting choice of opponent for Khan. Gotta make Canelo a sizable favorite on paper.
— Paul Malignaggi (@PaulMalignaggi) February 2, 2016
“It’ll be difficult for 36 minutes, Khan has a tendency to stay in the pocket too long sometimes.”
Khan’s bravery alone in taking on such a dangerous opponent at an unfamiliar weight is applaudable, having been praised by big names in the industry for such a decision, but it’s star of the show Canelo that will enter as the massive odds-on 2/5 favourite.
Khan confident of ‘making history’
The bullish Briton, who has been contesting at the welterweight limit of 147lbs since 2014, confirmed that the MGM Grand’s new 20k-seat T-Mobile Arena will be the venue for his showdown, where he is confident of making history.
“It’s going to be the first fight there [at the new stadium] and I’m looking forward to it because it is something new and it’s time to make history,” stated Britain’s youngest ever Olympic medalist, who is 25/1 to share a draw in May.
“To move up a weight or two and fight a world champion, someone that everyone is going to say is going to walk through Amir Khan. I really believe that I have the chance to beat him and by beating someone like Alvarez it will definitely make me one of the best fighters in the world.
“When Mayweather fought Alvarez he got him down to 152lbs – a weight where he was struggling to make the fight weight – so the weight we are fighting at is giving him a couple of more pounds to feel comfortable.
“We know what to do…”
“He is going to be a little bit stronger going into this fight against me, but watching how Floyd Mayweather beat him; Floyd boxed him, was smart and he moved well – he wasn’t standing there with him.
“Obviously I am going to pick a few things out of that fight. Alvarez looked really good in that fight, he was sharper, he was quicker. I have the hand speed, I have the great footwork so we know what to do.
“But whatever he brings to the table, I am going to have an answer for. I want the biggest fights in boxing. Alvarez, we all know how great a champion he is and how good a fighter he is.”
Surprise set-up in Canelo-Khan
With two high-profile names being thrust together, it doesn’t automatically guarantee a fight of the year contender, but it’s undoubtedly the most surprising bout of 2016 so far, for more reasons than just the size difference.
Nobody saw this coming, especially as Canelo is promoted by Golden Boy, who are currently embroiled in a $300m anti-trust suit against Al Haymon, who is, of course, Khan’s esteemed advisor.
Nevertheless, negotiations were successful between the parties involved and De La Hoya has delivered another potentially epic encounter, following on from Cotto-Canelo towards the back end of last year.
Career hangs in balance in Las Vegas
The stakes have never been higher for Bolton’s talented puncher, with victory set to catapult him among the sport’s most illustrious faces, with Mayweather maybe then finally taking notice as well.
However, defeat at the hands of Mexico’s latest ring ruler and the world’s current boxing star would see Khan endure another setback in his indifferent career to date, on Cinco De Mayo weekend, a Mexican celebration held on May 5th.
Nobody is questioning his guts though, with worldwide stardom and glory now there for the taking come May 7th, when ‘King’ Khan climbs through the ropes for the fight of his life, buoyantly aiming to take his seat upon boxing’s middleweight throne.
Look back at Amir Khan’s last fight against Chris Algieri with highlights from their New York meeting last year.
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